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I Grant You Three Wishes

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If only procuring funding for a school music program were as easy as rubbing an old oil lamp and bossing around a startled genie. Of course, there’s much more to it than that, especially in these trying times. Yet, beyond the bake sales and spaghetti dinners, the fundraising concerts and carwashes, there lurks a mysterious and often misunderstood source of funding known as “grants.” When painstakingly and mercilessly rooted out and grappled into submission, these strange creatures may provide what many would consider riches beyond our wildest dreams.

Fantasy aside, grants are a very real and attainable source of funding for many school music programs, as countless foundations, organizations, and benevolent companies across the country have set aside monies specifically for programs like yours all you have to do is find the perfect grant and submit an equally perfect application, which, granted, is no small task. To gauge the trends in grant writing among vocal music educators, Choral Director’s latest reader survey queried thousands of your peers nationwide, and indications are that this one area of funding remains mystifying for many.

Do you or other members of your department apply for grants?

Do you or other members of your department apply for grants?

If yes, how many per year?

If yes, how many per year?

“Our Music Boosters applies for small local grants and donations, typically in the $200 – $1500 range.”

Karen L. Reynolds
Tri County Schools
DeWitt, Neb.

“We have in-school grants that are funded by our Parents’ Association and other private donors. Mostly, those are the types of grants for which we apply.”

Lisa Pennington
Collegiate School
Richmond, Va.

If no, why not?

If no, why not?

“All of the above for me… It is very time consuming to find a grant that will meet my needs and time consuming to write if I find one.”

Carol Bellgrau
William Blount High School
Maryville, Tenn.

“Grants from industry or other organizations are #149;soft money’ and generally not renewable on an annual basis. It’s easy to start new programs and practices with grant money but often difficult to continue funding these endeavors without money on an annual basis. Education is the responsibility of the state and of the local community and as such should be funded by the state and community.”

Jeffry Stearns
West Lafayette Junior/Senior High School
West Lafayette, Ind.

If you don’t currently apply for grants, do you plan to do so in the future?

If you don't currently apply for grants, do you plan to do so in the future?

What percentage of your funding typically comes from grants?

What percentage of your funding typically comes from grants?

Type of grant support sought?

Type of grant support sought?

“The high school uses it for trips. I use the grants for large supplies, Yamaha pianos, recording equipment, et cetera.”

Doris Robinson
Paola Middle School
Paola, Kan.

What is the most challenging aspect of the grant-writing process?

“The time and paperwork involved. It can be a very intimidating process.”

Amanda Ragan
Oak Ridge High School
Oak Ridge, Tenn.

“Finding time to investigate the grant (that we qualify for and that will meet our need) and then getting the information needed to complete the writing process pricing equipment/installation expenses and finding quality time to complete the proposal.”

Susan M. Keefer
Wabash MS/HS
Wabash, Ind.

“Finding the right terminology that will convince the grantors that the grant is important and needed.”

Sister Lauretta Linsalata
Archbishop Ryan High School
Philadelphia, Pa.

“I suppose the time and the process that is in involved. I once had a workshop dealing with the grant-writing process. Again, #149;red tape’ seemed to be the major stumbling block. There has to be an easier way to do this.”

Don Stoner
Meyersdale Area School District
Meyersdale, Pa.

What is the most memorable grant you’ve been awarded?

“As a part of a team of four teachers, I wrote a large educational grant a few years ago that resulted in my school receiving $140,000 in funds. It took a lot of time, and our team of writers lived that process for several weeks. It was our first real grant award. That started it all for our school and resulted in much more money from other organizations. Keep trying! Once you get that first grant, others will follow.”

Ann Stahmer, (retired teacher)
City Choir of Washington
Washington, D.C.

“I’ve received one grant, applied for by our IT man. I obtained a Smart Board and projector, which became a main teaching tool in my class. Thanks for bringing this back to the forefront of my thoughts.”

Bruce J. Hanson
North Pole High School
North Pole, Alaska

“We received an almost-new trumpet to replace a very decrepit thirdhand one being used by a talented student who is planning on becoming a music teacher. A wonderful Connecticut organization named Horns For Kids gave us that.”

Frank Martignetti
High School in the Community
New Haven, CT

“Our Fine/Performing Arts program received $30K from state grants two years ago.”

Bonnie Graeve
Royal High School
Simi Valley, Calif.

“We received a grant for a new stereo system for my room. It was nearly $1,000!”

Jason Mondello
Winnebago CUSD 323
Winnebago, Ill.

“One from Lands End. First, I was selected from district grants to go to the final level, and then I was awarded $12,000 in computers for my elementary school music program as well as $900 in software. It was very rewarding for the students and helped over 2,000 students in music education.”

Rhonda Chalone
Toki Middle School
Madison, Wis.

“I wrote a grant for our school for $300,000 for staff development, materials, clinicians, and supplies. It was a CSR grant through the federal government for the state of West Virginia.”

Bruce Ensinger
New Martinsville School
New Martinsville, W.Va.

Do you have any tips for your fellow educators who may be interested in becoming more involved in grant writing?

“Choral grants are few and far between, but do not give up, there are some out there. Be creative with your ideas, it may be that you can find a grant to fund a new computer and then us your standard budget for music.”

Dr. Matthew C. Harden
University of Nebraska at Omaha
Omaha, Neb.

“Jump in with both feet and seek help for the sections that you don’t understand. The benefits are worth it. Take a grant writing course if you have the time.”

Jerilee Henderson
Tillamook High School
Tillamook, Ore.

“I would recommend talking with someone who has gone through the process, and to maybe find someone to help you with your first grant application. Some of them are very easy and many of them can get quite complicated. Also, be sure to stay on the lookout and check the Web for grant possibilities in your area.”

James D. Moyer
Pennsbury High School
Fairless Hills, Pa.

“Don’t be afraid to sit down and do the leg work. Grant writing is not as difficult or as time consuming as you may think it is.”

Leonia High School
Leonia, N.J.

“Keep a notebook of grants applied for and received. Constantly surf the Web, and keep a calendar to assist with deadlines!”

Wanda L. Mitchell
Davis Middle School
Hampton, Va.

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